“One of the things that has impressed me most about CCM is how the professors will sit and play with their students and take part in performances – there is nothing more meaningful.”
Raised in a musical family, it took Naomi Smith a few tries to find her instrument. She started piano at 5 years old, but by age 13 realized it was not her passion. In high school, she tried the clarinet but that was not quite it either. Then when her father bought her mother an electric bass, Smith picked that up and knew she had found what she was born to play.
As a Music major at County College of Morris (CCM), Smith says she has been grateful to learn from professors who are professional musicians and gain insight into the many career options available for those with a degree in music. Another benefit about studying music at CCM, she says, is it allowed her to meet several other talented young women and together they formed the female fronted band, Junkanoo. The band now has two EPs to its credit: Mother Nasty and Morir Soñando. The band features dual vocalists, Ailed Hernandez and Nicole Santana; dual bassists, Smith and the only male, Samuel Fallas-LoManto; and drummer Rebecca Alleman. All her fellow band members are CCM graduates. What the band does not include is a guitarist. It also plays a lot of its own material.
NJ Racket, which profiles and promotes independent music local to New Jersey, notes that the unique lineup “allows the band to create some really interesting melodies and harmonies.”
To date, Junkanoo has played shows at BoonTunes in Booton, QXT’s in Newark, the Clash bar in Clifton, the FM bar in Jersey City, and the Bowery Electric in New York City, to name a few venues. Junkanoo also was one of three bands to take part in Songs at Sunset, CCM first evening concert in the amphitheater located outside the Music Technology Center. The band is in the process of putting together its second tour, which will take place the summer of 2020.
“One of the great things about the recording program at CCM is you are recording other students, so you get to know other musicians,” says Smith. She also plays in the CCM Jazz Ensemble, which also has allowed her to build relationships with other musicians.
“One of the things that has impressed me most about CCM,” says Smith, “is how the professors will sit and play with their students and take part in performances – there is nothing more meaningful.”
Her next step when she graduates is to obtain work as a band musician on a cruise ship. “To be hired to play music every day that would be amazing.”
To listen to Junkanoo's latest EP, Morir Soñando, go to https://open.spotify.com/album/1XD37vNyn6Q46ziwHIZanb/.